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The Luções were a people from the island of Luzon in the Philippines.

Luções (Spanish: Luzones) is the name that the Portuguese explorers in Southeast Asia used to refer to one of the ethnic groups that occupied the island of Luzon (Portuguese: Lução) around the time of the early 16th century.[1][2][3][3]

The Luções are written in the documents of Fernão Mendes Pinto (1614); Tomé Pires (whose written documents were published in 1944); and Antonio Pigafetta, the Italian scholar who chronicled the journey of Ferdinand Magellan and published it in 1524.


Pires noted that they were "mostly heathen" and were not much esteemed in Malacca at the time he was there, although he also noted that they were strong, industrious, given to useful pursuits. Pires' exploration led him to discover that in their own country, the Luções had "foodstuffs, wax, honey, inferior grade gold," had no king, and were governed instead by a group of elders. They traded with tribes from Borneo and Indonesia and Philippine historians note that the language of the Luções was one of the 80 different languages spoken in Malacca[4] When Magellan's ship arrived in the Philippines and East Timor, Pigafetta noted that there were Luções there collecting sandalwood. [5]

The Luções' activities weren't limited to trade however. They also had a reputation for being fierce warriors. Pinto noted that there were a number of them in the Islamic fleets that went to battle with the Portuguese in the Philippines during the 16th century. The Sultan of Aceh gave one of them the of task of holding Aru (northeast Sumatra) in 1540. Pinto also says one was named leader of the Malays remaining in the Moluccas Islands after the Portuguese conquest in 1511.[6] Pigafetta notes that one of them was in command of the Brunei fleet in 1521.[5]

However, the Luções did not only fight on the side of the Muslims. Pinto says they were also apparently among the natives of the Philippines who fought the Muslims in 1538.[6] Scholars have thus suggested that they could be mercenaries valued by all sides.[3]

According to Anthony Reid notes that "the Luções people disappeared from descriptions of the archipelago after the Spanish conquest of Manila in 1571." The island of Luzon still bears their name.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pires, Tomé (1944). Armando Cortesao (translator), ed. A suma oriental de Tomé Pires e o livro de Francisco Rodriguez: Leitura e notas de Armando Cortesão [1512 - 1515] (in Portuguese). Cambridge: Hakluyt Society. 
  2. ^ Lach, Donald Frederick (1994). "Chapter 8: The Philippine Islands". Asia in the Making of Europe. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-46732-5. 
  3. ^ a b c d Reid, Anthony (1995). "Continuity and Change in the Austronesian Transition to Islam and Christianity". In Peter Bellwood, James J. Fox, and Darrell Tryon. The Austronesians: Historical and comparative perspectives. Canberra: Department of Anthropology, The Australian National University. 
  4. ^ Chinese Muslims in Malaysia, History and Development by Rosey Wang Ma
  5. ^ a b Pigafetta, Antonio (1524). "First voyage round the world" (in English (Trans. J.A. Robertson and 1969)). Manila:: Filipiniana Book Guild. 
  6. ^ a b Pinto, Fernao Mendes (1578). "The travels of Mendes Pinto." (in English (Trans. Rebecca Catz and 1989)). Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 

Additional sources[edit]